It shouldn’t need saying – #IAmNotADisease

We’ve been here before, people.

Now the American Medical Association has decided that obesity is a “disease”.

some doctors and obesity advocates said that having the nation’s largest physician group make the declaration would focus more attention on obesity.

Because you know, we as a society spend no time at all on the topic of weight and health and how disgusting and evil fat people are.

The first technical problem is that there’s no single definition of what a “disease” is – so sorry, fat-haters, you don’t really get “but SCIENCE!” free rein to keep hating on people whose bodies you dislike.  From the article linked above:

To some extent, the question of whether obesity is a disease or not is a semantic one, since there is not even a universally agreed upon definition of what constitutes a disease. And the A.M.A.’s decision has no legal authority.

The second is that the AMA contradicted its own committee of experts on public health:

The report panned body mass index as a proxy for obesity, saying it’s limited as a stand-alone. Furthermore, calling obesity a disease may undermine prevention efforts and will do little to impact its treatment, the report said.

“Without a single, clear, authoritative, and widely accepted definition of disease, it is difficult to determine conclusively whether or not obesity is a medical disease state,” the council told the AMA’s policy-making House of Delegates. “Similarly, a sensitive and clinically practical diagnostic indicator of obesity remains elusive.”

The third is all about following the money, because the initial report above clearly states:

And [the declaration] could help improve reimbursement for obesity drugs, surgery and counseling.

i.e. could make it a lot easier for fat people to pay for drugs which don’t work, undergo dangerous surgery which doesn’t work, and be convinced they need therapy for their existence.

The weight cycling industry in the US alone is worth $66 billion a year.  And yet it has not delivered a significant decrease in fatness in the US population.  If someone were making $66 billion a year and only returning illusory results  to its investors, we’d call it a Ponzi scheme and throw people in jail for it.

But the overwhelming issue is, of course, that my body is not a disease.  Being fat is a characteristic of my body, like my eye colour, like my hair colour, like my skin tone.  It is strongly influenced by genetics, just like my foot size (not a disease) and the shape of my ass (way too awesome to be a disease).

People always want to say “but I’m not talking about you, it’s just that obesity is linked blah blah blah”.

You’re lying, people.  Maybe you’re lying to yourself, too, and do honestly believe that you’re a judgement-free snowflake whose only flaw is caring too much.  But you’re lying nevertheless.

As has already been covered on far too many occasions, height is “linked” with plenty of health issues.  Different ethnic and geographic backgrounds are linked with health issues – and we don’t say “let’s declare “spending your childhood in New Zealand” a disease” in order to “focus more attention” on iodine deficiencies.

We are, in many (but not all) other spheres, quite able to treat health issues on their own without demonizing the associated characteristics of the people who have those health issues.  We do it for fat because we’ve accepted the idea that (a) fatness is controllable (despite reams and decades of scientific research to the contrary) and thus blameable, and (b) the “links” between weight and certain health issues is rock-hard and invariable, as opposed to the “links” between height and Alzheimer’s disease, which are just random, blameless flukes of nature.

When you talk about “obesity”, you’re talking about my entire life.  Because the only way I will ever be not-fat, ironically, is if I am sick and that sickness, or the cure-or-kill-you treatment for it, causes unnatural, damaging weightloss which will reverse itself once I’m not sick – yep, being healthy would make me gain weight again.

You don’t “cure” obesity without killing me, and everyone else who’s fat.  You don’t call obesity “a disease” without labelling every single fat person as inherently sick.  And we’re not.


Mandatory links because I just know you’re out there waiting to whinge about “but SCIENCE!”:  Big Liberty’s Truth Behind Fat page.  Dr Charlotte Cooper spins it on its head to say Yes, I am a disease.